Clapdale Wool is a project started in 2021 with the help of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Sustainable Development Fund to create wool products – hand knit yarn, jumpers, accessories – from wool sourced from within a 5 mile radius of Glencroft’s home of Clapham, Yorkshire Dales.

You can view all the products which we’ve made from Clapdale Wool including hand knit hanks in DK and Lace weight, wool tops and the limited edition ‘Thwaite’ jumper, a heavyweight jumper designed to last a lifetime.

You can also use our free knitting patterns designed for Clapdale hand knit wool (all created by our neighbour and hand knit expert Sandra Oakeshott):

Farmer holding hay bale, surrounded by his sheep
Farmer William Dawson with the Dalesbred sheep whose fleeces' are in Clapdale Wool

Wool and Glencroft

Glencroft has manufactured in the UK and used 100% British Wool in our range of jumpers since we began in 1987. This is yarn certified by British Wool as being from sheep living on UK fields.

It’s been the most traceable wool we could find at a reasonable price but we’ve always hankered to use the sheep on the fields around us and contribute directly to our local community.

Sheep in the Yorkshire Dales

There have been sheep in the Yorkshire Dales for generations, from our local Dalesbred breed on the fells of Ingleborough to the more modern Texels, bred for meat and the North of England Mule, a cross between the Blue Faced Leicester and Swaledale breeds. However much of the wool has been worth less and less in recent years, with some farmers finding they had to pay to just get rid of some breeds’ fleeces.

Glencroft has been based in Clapham for over 30 years and also now a second generation family business with son Edward Sexton. He went to the village primary school with many current local farmers so it was an honour to reach out to them years later and connect further with the local community.

How our local wool project began

A random connection led to a conversation in mid 2021 with Maria Benjamin and Zoe Wooster at the Wool Library who had managed to create yarn with their own Herdwick sheep using a variety of scourers, carders, combers and spinners across Yorkshire.

We realised we could make our own wool as long as we started with 500kg – the minimum quantity we could get commercially scoured. Very soon after that we got in touch with the Yorkshire Dales National Park to help us get the project going, picked up wool from two local farms we’ve known all our lives and started the process that would result in Clapdale Wool!

From the start we wanted this to be sustainable and create a circular economy here in the Yorkshire Dales, so we paid farmers a minimum of £1 a kilo for their clip – enough to cover the price of shearing regardless of the breed – and will give a share of 10% of the profits we make back to them. We want to grow the wool economy to benefit everyone involved, starting with those on our doorstep.

Inspecting a Dalesbred fleece
Edward Sexton inspecting a Dalesbred fleece with Zoe Wooster and Maria Benjamin of the Wool Library.

The Future of Clapdale Wool

The first 500kg of Clapdale Wool was picked up from farms in September 2021. It took 6 months to process (read more about that below) and our first product – hand knit hanks – sold from May 2022 on our website and in local shops. We created our first limited edition jumper from this wool – The Thwaite – in May 2023.

In 2022 we expanded the project to 7 local farms and purchased 3 tonnes of wool with the help of British Wool, who picked it up and sorted it for us.

Half of this wool will be made into more mixed breed yarn in a range of colours for hand knitters and more limited edition jumpers.

The other half, made from the hardy Dalesbred sheep, will be woven into blankets and a tweed cloth.

The Process

Clapdale Wool starts with sheep on the hills of Ingleborough and surrounding fells – the Yorkshire ‘Dale’ of ‘Clapdale’. On these fells are a range of breeds and we’ve used nearly all of them – Dalesbred, Texel, Blue Face Leicester, North of England Mule and Texel (and Teeswater in our first year’s batch).

We want Clapdale Wool to represent this area which is why we’ve included all the breeds, even some that aren’t usually associated with knitting wool. It also means we can work with as much of our local farmer’s wool as possible, not just those with the softest fleeces.

Clapdale Wool - The Process
Clapdale Wool – The Process